Browns Notebook: 1/4
The Browns won a total of nine games in 2003 and 2004. They won a total of 10 games in 2005 and 2006.
Butch Davis did not survive the dismal seasons of '03 and '04. In fact, he resigned before the 2004 season ended. Terry Robiskie was put on clean-up detail and finished 1-4.
Unless a stunning development occurs in closed-door meetings over the next 10 days, Romeo Crennel will retain his job and coach the Browns for a third season starting in 2007. The pressure will be on from the beginning, though. A slow start like 2006 when the Browns were 1-5 at the bye and out of the race by Halloween could result in a change in midseason.
Crennel said progress was made in 2006 even though the Browns' record went backward. He said he watched a trailer for the movie 'We are Marshall' about the tragic plane crash in November of 1970, in which 75 players, coaches, fans and crew members died, and thought about his own football team.
"As I watched the flyer for that movie, basically the program was eliminated because all the players were gone," Crennel said. "That's what's happened with this team.
"In 1999, they tried to put the players back and get started. In two years, let's start again (Davis in 2001). In four years (Crennel in 2005) let's start again. I hope people understand it takes time to build a team and get it the right way.
"We're starting from scratch. If we keep adding quality to the team like Kamerion Wimbley, D'Qwell Jackson or Lawrence Vickers then we'll build a good nucleus that will be competitive. That will begin to show on the win-loss column. Realistically, you can't expect that to happen over night."
During a press conference Oct. 27, when the Browns were 1-5, Savage compared the rebuilding to hitting the reset button on a video game. He said the process could take three to five years, which means the Browns would be competitive in 2007 at the soonest and possibly as late as 2009.
The only way Crennel would be fired would be if he balked at making coaching changes on his offensive staff. Unfortunately for his status as the leader of the football team, the perception is owner Randy Lerner and general manager Phil Savage are ordering changes that he might well have made on his own.
Crennel said he is primarily in charge of forming his coaching staff, but he emphasized it will be "our decision," referring to himself, Lerner and Savage.
"We're going to talk about that and we'll see what changes I might be asked to make," Crennel said. "In the next couple of weeks we'll see."
The Browns ranked 31st in the league offensively after ranking 26th last year with 4,550 yards. They totaled 4,235 yards this season. They scored 238 points in 2006, only six more than last year, despite having Kellen Winslow Jr. and Braylon Edwards all season, plus Joe Jurevicius for 13 games.
--In the all-important race for draft picks The Browns and Buccaneers both finished 4-12. One team will draft third and the other fourth in the first round, then they will alternate throughout the draft. The Buccaneers beat the Browns 22-7 in the 15th game, but strength of schedule, not head-to-head, determines draft order. Browns and Buccaneers opponents were both 137-119, so a coin flip will determine which team gets the third pick. Usually the coin flip is conducted at the scouting combine in February in Indianapolis.
--The Cleveland chapter of the Pro Football Writers of America voted Kamerion Wimbley as the Browns' Player of the Year. The first-round outside linebacker set a Browns rookie record with 11 sacks.
--Safety Brian Russell was voted the Good Guy Award winner by the Cleveland chapter of the PFWA. The award goes to the player who cooperates best with the media and has the respect of his teammates.
--Wide receiver Braylon Edwards decided not to talk to the media after being benched for the first three quarters of the Tampa Bay game for being late to two meetings that week. He behaved the next week and started against Houston but he still refuses to talk.
Earlier in the season he was late to a meeting in the team hotel the night before the Browns played the Steelers. That day, Michigan and Ohio State played in Columbus. Edwards chartered a helicopter to take him to and from the game. It did not work as planned and the return trip took longer than expected.
"I have nothing to say," Edwards said last week. "I'm tired of crucifying myself."
--The biggest black mark on Romeo Crennel's first two seasons is his record within the Browns' division. Crennel is 1-11 in the AFC North.
--A Cleveland area high school, Mentor High, won a regular season game and a playoff game in Cleveland Browns Stadium in 2006. That equals the number of games the Browns (2-6) won there this season.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I don't know what everyone wants him to be, but I think he'll be a good football player and a good citizen of the Cleveland community." -- Head coach Romeo Crennel on wide receiver Braylon Edwards.
FRYE, AGAIN THE GUY?: Romeo Crennel is standing up for quarterback Charlie Frye, saying he would be comfortable with Frye as the starter next season.
"I've said that all along," Crennel said. "My stance hasn't changed, but that doesn't mean that we wouldn't bring someone in. I've said before that Charlie is good enough to win with. I'm not backing off that statement. Every position gets evaluated. We'll see what happens."
Frye was 4-9 as a starter in 2006, his first full year on the job, and that gives him credit for the Kansas City game which the Browns won with Derek Anderson at quarterback in the second half. The score was 14-14 at halftime.
Crennel said Anderson will be involved in a competition, but he said Frye has 'a leg up' on Anderson. Anderson was 0-3 as a starter and suffered a separated shoulder. He threw eight interceptions in the brief time he played.
COACHING CAROUSEL: Most of the changes on Romeo Crennel's coaching staff will be on the offensive side, starting with Jeff Davidson. Davidson took over as offensive coordinator from Maurice Carthon Oct. 23 and did nothing to give the offense a spark. He was handicapped because he inherited Carthon's playbook, but with Davidson calling plays the offense was kept out of the end zone in three of the last six games.
Receivers coach Terry Robiskie is likely on his way out. He was a holdover from four years of Butch Davis. Robiskie did not control Braylon Edwards well.
The Browns could take their time finding replacements from current playoff teams. Crennel needs experienced offensive coaches because his background is on defense.
FREE AGENT UPDATE: One thing is certain for the 4-12 Browns; no franchise player exists among the free agents to be.
The contracts for wide receiver/punt returner Dennis Northcutt, center Hank Fraley, defensive end Alvin McKinley, safety Brian Russell and offensive lineman Cosey Coleman expire this year.
Getting Fraley under contract is important because of the uncertainty of LeCharles Bentley, who is recovering from a torn patellar tendon. Bentley is vague about his chances of playing next season.
Coach Romeo Crennel wants Russell back. Russell is not as fast as the other three safeties, but he makes up with wisdom what he lacks in speed.
FEELING A DRAFT: The Browns will draft third or fourth, pending a coin flip with the Buccaneers. The Browns would love it if Wisconsin left tackle Joe Thomas is available when they pick. Shoring up both lines has to be a priority. If they do enough in free agency to fix the line they could use their first pick on Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson or Michigan defensive tackle Alan Branch.
Guard: The Browns need two starting guards. Joe Andruzzi gave it his all in 2006 but it was not enough and Cosey Coleman won't be re-signed. Eric Steinbach would be a perfect fit.
Defensive end: Both ends need to be replaced. Linebacker Kamerion Wimbley had 11 sacks with no help in front of him.
Cornerback: Gary Baxter is determined to be the first player to come back in one year from twin patellar tendon tears. The Browns need a starter in case he fails.
MEDICAL WATCH: Guard's Joe Andruzzi and Cosey Coleman will have 'clean out' surgery on their knees.
--Linebacker Matt Stewart needs surgery on a finger injured late in the season.
--Tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. will have surgery to remove scar tissue from his right knee. He said he will do his rehab in Miami.
--Quarterback Derek Anderson is recovering from a separated shoulder. At this point surgery is not required.
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